At 8pm local time on Friday 31 October, more than 650 soldiers from the Sudanese Armed Forces arrived in Tabit, a village 45 kilometres south-west of El Fasher. Their arrival was allegedly prompted by the disappearance of one of their number who has visited Tabit, and had failed to return to the barracks on Thursday evening. Numerous accounts from local people confirm what happened next: the soldiers used their rifle butts to beat the local men, and then they spent until 4am the following day, Saturday 1 November, raping approximately 200 women and girls. 80 of the victims were minors, of whom eight were primary school pupils.
The UN/African Union hybrid peacekeeping mission, UNAMID, is based in El Fasher, only 30 miles away. UNAMID investigators arrived at Tabit on Tuesday 4 November where they immediately interviewed four local witnesses who confirmed the above details. However, four vehicles carrying Sudanese military intelligence members arrived shortly after, who spoke to the UNAMID investigators for half an hour, after which UNAMID withdrew. UNAMID subsequently claimed they had not interviewed local people, saying they were “denied access by Sudanese military at a checkpoint.”
UNAMID did finally visit Tabit again on Sunday 9 November, after a delay of one week. Witnesses confirm that this gave Sudanese forces time to tamper with the crime scene and intimidate local people into remaining silent about what had occurred. Despite this, UNAMID has stated that they “neither found any evidence nor received any information regarding the … allegations during the period in question”. It has since been revealed that Sudanese soldiers were present during UNAMID’s questioning. U.N. Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, has been quoted as saying that the circumstances of UNAMID’s investigation mean “it was not possible to conclude that no sexual violence took place”.
Sign this petition by the Darfur Women Action Group to pressure the UN Security Council to take measures to investigate this crime, protect the people of Darfur and bring the perpetrators to justice.
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